Raging Over Roads

I-35 through Austin declared one of the very worst roads for truckers

I-35 through Austin declared one of the very worst roads for truckers

Austin traffic highway I-35 congestion
Truckers hate I-35 traffic too. Courtesy photo

Commuters aren’t the only drivers fed up with I-35. A new study from the American Transportation Research Institute ranks I-35 through Austin as the 28th worst highway bottleneck for American truckers.

The American Transportation Research Institute study was based on GPS data from more than 600,000 big-rig trucks. In all, the study identifies 100 congested segments of U.S. highways. It lists 14 Texas bottlenecks for truckers; Austin holds just one spot in the ranking, while Houston has 10 spots and Dallas-Fort Worth has three. 

Why does Texas have so many trucking chokepoints? “Texas is a key freight generator and a critical link in the nation’s supply chain,” says John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Association.

While I-35 through Austin is a bottleneck for truckers, big-rig trucks make up a very small portion of traffic on the interstate.

A study released in 2015 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that only 14 percent of traffic volume on I-35 in Austin consists of vehicles traveling through the area without stopping. Of that volume, trucks make up just 1 percent. The remaining 86 percent of Austin’s I-35 traffic comprises local vehicles.

In August 2016, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) ranked I-35 from U.S. 290 North to State Highway 71 as the state’s second most congested roadway. Today, that portion of I-35 is clogged for six hours a day. If no improvements are made to I-35 by 2040, congestion on that part of the interstate will grow to nine hours a day, TxDOT warns.

To ease gridlock on I-35 through Austin, TxDOT offers discounts for trucks traveling, instead, on two toll roads: State Highway 130 and State Highway 45 SE. The second phase of the discount program ends August 31.

Here’s the full list of truck bottlenecks in Texas and where they appear in the overall ranking:

  • No. 8 — I-45 at U.S. 59 in Houston
  • No. 11 — I-10 at I-45 in Houston
  • No. 12 — I-45 at I-30 in Dallas
  • No. 13 — I-10 at U.S. 59 in Houston
  • No. 22 — I-610 at U.S. 290 in Houston
  • No. 25 — I-45 at I-610 North in Houston
  • No. 28 — I-35 in Austin
  • No. 33 — I-10 at I-610 West in Houston
  • No. 49 — I-35 West at I-30 in Fort Worth
  • No. 59 — I-610 at U.S. 59 West in Houston
  • No. 60 — U.S. 75 at I-635 in Dallas
  • No. 65 — I-45 at Sam Houston Tollway North in Houston
  • No. 82 — I-45 at I-610 South in Houston
  • No. 88 — I-10 at I-610 East in Houston